In a historic visit, Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church inaugurated ‘The Way of Salvation: Exhibition of Christian Art,’ organized by the Anglican Church of Egypt as part of the celebrations of 75th anniversary of All Saints Cathedral. Eleven artists submitted 28 works of painting, sculpture, and relief to express the Christian message of salvation culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
‘I truly appreciate the role played by art in spiritual meditation and inspiration of acts of good will,’ wrote Tawadros in the official program. ‘For this reason the church through the ages has encouraged all fields of art as an important tool to illustrate the stories of the Bible and the life of the saints.’
In his opening remarks, Bishop Mouneer Hanna of the Anglican Church honored the Orthodox as the ‘mother church’ of Egypt, and expressed his appreciation for the pope’s visit.
‘The pope believes in the unity of the churches, which Jesus prayed for,’ he said. ‘With his presence he emphasizes the spiritual work and the love between the churches.’
Since his consecration as pope in November 2012, Tawadros has sought to lessen tensions between Egyptian Christian denominations and publicly esteem their common faith. This was his first visit to the Anglican cathedral, and in March 2013 he attended the inauguration of Bishop Ibrahim Isaac as the new Coptic Catholic patriarch.
Rarely in history has the Coptic Orthodox pope visited other churches in Egypt, confirmed Fr. Bishouy Helmy, secretary-general of the Egypt Council of Churches.
‘This visit carries the values of an open mind and faith in ecumenical work with other churches,’ he said. ‘It also expresses appreciation and honor for the arts.’
Pope Tawadros spent over an hour in the exhibition, studying each piece and communicating with the artists.
‘Selecting the ten participating artists was done through a lot of prayer,’ wrote Dr. Farid Fadel, the exhibition’s curator and eleventh participant. Care was taken to ensure each artist would submit works that expressed the message of salvation, he said, as some artists belong to schools which desecrate holy subjects.
‘What you see today is the collective outcome of their labor of love.’
All Saint’s Cathedral in Zamalek will display the exhibition until 8 May 2014, 10:30am to 8pm
* Article written by Mr Jayson Casper, a local journalist in Cairo (http://asenseofbelonging.org/)